Poisoned by the Sun? Here’s How to Know

Sunshine can boost your mood. But it can also have serious effects on your skin if you aren’t paying attention. The result could be a sunburn or something even more severe: sun poisoning.

Sun poisoning describes a more dangerous form of sunburn, one that commonly affects people with fairer skin and can lead to serious consequences.

According to Pennsylvania-based health system UPMC, it takes only 15 minutes to burn in the sun. Depending on the sun’s strength that day, more than 15 minutes spent outside could cause sun poisoning.

UPMC describes the most common symptoms of sun poisoning as:

  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention. If not treated quickly and correctly, sun poisoning can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

What’s the treatment for sun poisoning?

If you have mild sunburn or sun poisoning, UPMC recommends trying these home remedies to lessen the pain:

  • Hydrate and take ibuprofen to manage the pain
  • Apply cold compresses made of equal parts milk and water, or infused with Burow’s solution, to soothe the skin. Aloe vera gel can serve as an alternative
  • Use cool (not cold) water when bathing, and avoid scented items such as lotions, bath salts, oils, and perfumes because they may react negatively with the burned skin
  • Avoid the sun until you’re well, and take precautionary measures to avoid a similar situation!

To help heal sun poisoning, UPMC says these home remedies can help:

  • Avoid popping blisters or scratching the rash
  • Take a cool (not cold) bath, or apply cool compresses to soothe the swelling
  • Take ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to relieve pain
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream to relieve pain and itching
  • Drink extra fluids for a few days
  • Cover sunburned areas and put on sunscreen before going outside

At any time, if you experience serious sunburn, visit your doctor. Letting symptoms worsen or allowing pain to continue can lead to more serious repercussions in the long run.